Kid Rock is embraced by NAACP President Wendell Anthony. (Photo: AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
"I love America. I love Detroit, and I love Black people.” This was a declaration of Kid Rock when he took the stage Sunday to accept a Great Expectations award at the Detroit branch of the NAACP’s 56th annual “Fight for Freedom Fund” dinner.
Rock, a native of Macomb County, Michigan, whose real name is Robert Richie, was honored for his "commitment to Detroit and the future success of the city." During an acceptance speech, the musician even pledged $100,000 in donations from his foundation—five $10,000 grants to Motor City–based organizations and $50,000 to the American Red Cross for tornado victims in U.S. Southern states. His announcement was reportedly met with a standing ovation.
But outside the dinner, there was a different stand, as a group of about 60 people held signs that said “No to Kid Rock.” The protesters criticized the NAACP for honoring the musician who has used the Confederate flag during onstage performances, arguing the symbol is the complete opposite of what the organization stands for.
"It stands for hatred, bigotry, racism, murder," Detroit political consultant Adolph Mongo said of the flag. "Every bigot and racist in this country loves that flag."
"I've never flown that flag with hate in my heart, not once," Rock declared as he scooped up his award. He explained that his use of the flag was a "homage" to Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, whose music he sampled in his 2008 mash-up hit “All Summer Long.” In previous statements, Rock has said: "I've never had an issue with [the flag]. To me it just represents pride in Southern rock 'n' roll music. Plus it just looks cool."
Ultimately, Detroit NAACP President Wendell Anthony stood by his decision to extend the honor and said before the event, "We're not lifting up the flag. We're lifting up a gentleman who has worked very hard to be a booster for Detroit."
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